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Satnews Daily
January 8th, 2020

Thales Alenia Space and Thales' Contract with French Defense for a Stratobus™ Type Platform

The French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) has hired Thales Alenia Space and Thales to carry out a concept study concerning intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) applications using a Stratobus™ type platform to meet French army operational needs.

Thales Alenia Space is the joint venture between Thales, 67percent and Leonardo, 33 percent. 

The aim of the contract is to study the benefits of continuous stratospheric platforms to improve and expand France’s defense capabilities. More specifically, the contract includes studies of:

  • An operational concept study for an ISR mission including exercises simulating its use in theaters of operation.
  • A full-scale demonstrator concept, capable of flying in the stratosphere to demonstrate the in-flight performance of an ISR mission of this type.


Stratobus™ type stratospheric solutions offer two main advantages:

  • It significantly increases the area monitored by a single platform, especially by eliminating terrain masking
  • It offers an ability to linger over an area, thus improving resilience in relation to current naval, airborne, ground and space solutions.


Jean-Philippe Chessel, Director of the Stratobus™ product line stated that the aim of this contract is to assess the relevance of Stratobus™ type continuous stratospheric solutions to meet defense needs, and also marks a major step forward in the definition of a possible operational solution in conjunction with users. It will enable them to prepare the foundations for the development of a complete solution, including high-reliability autonomous avionics, as well as all control aspects. They are aiming to carry out a flight demonstration by the end of 2023. The Stratobus™ project has been supported by the French government from the outset within the scope of the Investment in the Future plan and a European regional development fund (FEDER) for the French Riviera region.